Candidate for Harlem’s City Council Representative

The Harlem East Block Association (HEBA) is planning on endorsing a candidate for city council as soon as possible, hopefully by early April. To accomplish this, they are meeting with candidates and then going to survey their members on who HEBA should endorse.  Note candidates will be asked to fill out a questionnaire. A draft is included here (a simplified version from last year). 

In the meantime, please distribute the YOUR VOTE MATTERS poster in your buildings to register voters and collect neighbors’ contact information. 

Yusef Salaam has agreed to come speak to the HEBA. He was one of the Exonerated Five and has been a criminal justice advocate since then. He agreed to take a walk with us around the neighborhood on Feb 13 noon. We are starting at La Marqueta. Please come meet him in person and show him our challenges. This is a great way to advocate for our community. He will then speak to us on zoom on Feb 24 (Thurs) 7pm.

Quote from him “This gives us the opportunity to be able to restore Harlem to the greatness that it is and could always be.” (read more here)


Friendship, after all, has life-sustaining properties and has been shown to improve both physical and mental health. Psychologists say that although strong social ties can be maintained through technology, nothing beats face-to-face contact. And it’s no secret that coming together is easier the closer you are. 

With Valentine’s Day — and Galentine’s Day — approaching, I called up a few psychologists and friendship experts to talk about the role that physical proximity plays in keeping and developing social ties. 

Here are the highlights from our conversations.

Friendship as a basic need

One thing they all emphasized: It’s not frivolous to prioritize friendship. “I think so many times we view it as: if we have time, then we’ll give attention to our social life. Or, oh, it’s a luxury to be able to go out and see friends,” said Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist and the host of Baggage Check, a mental health podcast. “When in reality, we know that having strong friendships predicts our longevity, it helps our immune system, it makes us more resilient and protected against certain mental and physical health disorders.”

The friendship radius

Many of us already have a “friendship radius,” defined as “the distance we are willing to travel to spend time with friends,” said Elizabeth Laugeson, a clinical psychologist and an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

“For some people in urban settings, their radius becomes smaller because it takes more time to travel distances in congested areas,” she says. “In rural settings, people may be more willing to travel longer distances to be with friends because there are fewer alternatives. Whatever your friendship radius is, we are more likely to spend time with friends that we can easily access.”

Robin Dunbar, a psychologist and the author of Friends: Understanding the Power of our Most Important Relationships, says that a 30-minute radius is the real sweet spot. One study on interpersonal contact in Canada in 1978 showed that the frequency of face-to-face encounters starts to decline once the distance between friends or relatives reaches five miles; phone contact started to dry up at 100 miles.

“If you don’t see them regularly enough, friendships decline very rapidly,” said Dunbar. “You have to be able to walk around there, bang on their door, and say, I feel like crap,” he said. “Because at that point, there is only one thing that you need, and that’s a hug.”

Proximity matters 

Dunbar argues that FaceTimes and Facebook messages can’t compete when it comes to fostering friendship. But Laugeson points to the Covid lockdowns as evidence that “true friendships can survive the challenge of physical proximity.”

Still, there are unique benefits to living close by. Besides the immediate comfort and regularity, being a neighbor can also breed spontaneity. “It’s a lot different to bump into somebody frequently because they happen to live on your street, and you have the ability to sort of see them on a random day without planning,” said Bonior. “Any time you have to plan, there’s more possibility that the planning itself is going to thwart getting together.” 

Don’t stay closed off

Cultivating a community that closely reflects your existing social networks has drawbacks, too. Even if all your like-minded friends move to you, experts say you should still be open to making new and unexpected connections in the neighborhood. “We expand when our world expands. We get to know those different from ourselves,” said Melanie Ross Mills, the author of The Friendship Bond. “We stretch ourselves beyond our ‘community comfort zone.’”

From Bloomberg’s CityLab:

Asian Americans in East Harlem

Bloomberg has a report on the growing number of Asian Americans living in East Harlem:

Two of our Harlem neighbors – Eva and Lilian – formed the Upper Manhattan Asian American Alliance to support this growing community and to celebrate its contribution to the beautiful diversity of Harlem.

Get Stuff Done (On Your Block)

Reach out to: [email protected] to learn more.

Harlem Ephemera

Ebay had a rare item of Harlem ephemera up for auction – a noisemaker from the original Cotton Club.

Note the reference to Cab Callaway on the back.

Today’s view of Lenox and 142nd Street:

Musica De Camara Concert


Musica de Camara
1215 5th Ave, Suite 1B
New York NY 10029
email: [email protected]

A.B.C. School Armors-Up

One of the most blatant examples of recent decisions that bolstered the structural racism our community struggles with, was to locate the nation’s first supervised consumption site across the street from a Harlem Pre-K.

By not engaging with the community (who would have emphatically asked OnPoint and NYC’s Department of Health not to locate an injection site across from a Pre-K) in the process of deciding on the location for the injection site, OnPoint has endangered Harlem’s children and families attending this A.B.C. school.

One of the manifestations of this endangerment has been that A.B.C. school has felt it was prudent to install 2-inch thick bullet-proof glass on their ground floor windows.

And, in case you were wondering how many students attend school within 1,000 feet (or two blocks) of the injection site, the answer is 4,250 students:

As Seen In Harlem

On West 127th Street:

Sundial. Not.

If you’ve ever been headed northbound on Madison Avenue and at 118th Street noticed the Subway and the curious ‘sculpture’ on the wall next to the restaurant, you may have been puzzled as to what’s going on with what looks like a sundial.

You’re right to be confused because something clearly was messed up between the designer and the installer. The sundial is upside down:

The photo (above) was taken around 8 in the morning, yet seems to be indicating that it’s 9 pm at night.

What has happened is the gnomon has been mounted upside down, and as a consequence, the numbers and their position make no sense.

Take a look at the image below, with a gnomon correctly aligned on a downward 45 degree slope:

If you’d like to try making one yourself, here’s a great place to start:

The Harlem Cultural Festival

The Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969’s original poster, highlighting the acts and activities

Extreme Couponing

Thomas Sankara in Harlem

The 5th President of Burkina Faso -Thomas Sankara (1949-1987) – visited Harlem in 1984 to give an impassioned speech asking for solidarity between Africans and the African diaspora.

Sankara spoke at Harriet Tubman Elementary School (P.S. 154) in Harlem, New York City, after the Reagan Administration denied President Sankara an official state visit to the White House – likely the result of Sankara’s socialist and Pan-African rhetoric. Sankara, who was in New York City to speak at the United Nations at the time, received word of the Reagan Administrations’ decision and headed uptown to Harlem.

President Sankara’s most inflammatory catchphrase was: “For the African Revolutionary, My White House is in Black Harlem!”

Note that the president also unhooked his belt and raised the belt and his pistol to emphasize his belief in direct revolution.

President Sankara was overthrown and killed in a coup three years later.

Amsterdam News Reports on the Plight of the small (Black) Landlord

Amsterdam News reports on how Black landlords are finding it increasingly difficult to stay afloat in New York City.

Small homeowners — multi-generational, multi-family, often Black and brown homeowners – are increasingly leaving New York, or unable to continue as landlords in many of New York City’s residential and renter neighborhoods. 

Black and minority home and property owners have been left at the mercy of the financial crisis in the early 2000s, and the COVID-19 pandemic only furthered housing insecurity.

“We’ll never own property at the rate we owned. Never again,” said Community Activist Paul Toomer Muhammad. “This is the foolishness.” Muhammad has been a property owner in East New York in Brooklyn for almost 20 years. He had two properties. His neighborhood is 55.4% Black and 34.9% Hispanic.
Muhammad blames “aggressive” emergency pandemic policies like the city’s eviction moratorium and the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)/Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP) for setting back small landlords in one- to four-unit homes because they were not distinguished enough from large commercial buildings or buildings with more than six rent-controlled units, and therefore not protected. 

Some Black landlords have joined the lawsuit five small landlords filed against State Attorney General Letitia James, claiming that the COVID Foreclosure Prevention Act hurt their interests.

“I’m in the same court system where you can stall a tenant in my house for a year and a half, but I still have to pay mortgage, water bill, tax, heat, electricity,” said Muhammad. “A foreclosure is an eviction to the landlord and the tenant.”

To read more, see:

DSNY Says No

At our January HNBA meeting, the issue of increased street trash on our streets was raised. That week, we reached out to DSNY’s Community Affairs Liason, and asked if a DSNY representative could attend our March HNBA meeting. No answer came.

Today we sent a 2nd email, and received this message back:

Good afternoon,

I apologize for the delay.

Unfortunately, DSNY will be unable to attend your meeting.

Please send me the businesses and locations to flag for enforcement and I will do so.

Thank you

Marissa Yanni 

Community Affairs Liaison

Bureau of Community Affairs

NYC Department of Sanitation

Office: 646-885-4575

Mobile: 646-841-4250
[email protected]

Supportive Housing Coming

A new 99-person supportive housing building is slated to be built on the parking lot next to the 25th Precinct. Workers were seen cleaning the asphalt and cars were banned from the parking lot:

Harlem and The Bronx

This image from the 1930’s from a high vantage point (likely from the towering 555 Edgecombe Avenue), shows Harlem in the foreground and The Bronx in the background.

What is now Jackie Robinson Park is immediately below (in the foreground) and you can see the distinctive kiosk shown in another 1930’s photo and from Google Streetview:

Note how the 1930s streetscape north of 152nd Street (up to 153rd Street) is fully intact. It also appears as if the vacant lot on the south-east corner of the block has been vacant for almost 100 years.

Harlem’s Poet Laureate

CBS has the story from Governor Hochul’s inauguration on how a 9-year-old from Harlem came to be her poet laureate:

“I was outside the Apollo Theater, it was Amateur Night,” Hochul recalled at the beginning of her speech Sunday. “And there’s a long line around the block, and I saw this young man standing there. I said, ‘You’re going in to watch somebody?’ He goes, ‘No, I’m a poet. I’m going to go recite.'”
“I was excited,” Hern remembered feeling. “Yeah, because at the Apollo, I just wanted to take a picture with her. And then she asked me, what do I do? And I said, I draw. I also write poems.”
Hern did not throw away his shot, performing his way straight to the top.
“I figured he’d whip out a piece of paper and read it to me,” Hochul continued. “He had memorized it … I stood there on the spot and I said, ‘If I win this election, you are my Poet Laureate and I want you here.'”

Generational Wealth

Free Generational Workshop from the Blacklining Foundation.
Learn more about creating generational wealthLife Insurance, Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, and more!

Marcus Garvey Park Glacier

Perhaps it’s not technically a glacier, and it was spotted earlier, during that cold snap, but the sight of the park weeping water and freezing into an ice waterfall is fascinating.